ESG Snapshot: Issue 43

ESG Snapshot: Issue 43

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • Greenhouse gas appeal fails. Atlas Iron has failed to convince the WA government that a mine's emissions shouldn't undergo EPA assessment.
  • Landfill levy jump. Victoria's landfill levy will increase to align with the NSW rate.
  • Bilbies versus landfill. The WA government says it won't take a "black and white approach" to protecting critical habitat.
  • ANZ raises expectations. In the wake of the federal Safeguard reforms, ANZ says it now expects more from its large emitting customers (company news).
  • Undeterred. Victoria's Budget included millions to persevere with planning a renewable energy terminal at the Port of Hastings, as well as funding to review the state's energy efficiency scheme.
  • Meat and veg. The federal government is concerned about the impact on beef exporters of an EU anti-deforestation regulation, while a WA parliamentary committee wants more support for the plant-based proteins sector.
  • Plastics pledge. Australia is a signatory to a new declaration on plastic production.

Interested in working for BlueScope, the Carbon Market Institute, or Squadron Energy? Check out this issue's jobs board! See listed events on energy efficiency, direct air capture and more.

ESG Snapshot is published weekly by the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia.


DCCEEW is running a webinar tomorrow on the government's new environmentally sustainable procurement policy.

Bid registrations for a forthcoming Capacity Investment Scheme tender for 6GW of renewable energy capacity will open on 16 May, according to a Market Brief.

Minimum capacity targets for each jurisdiction are - NSW 2.2GW, SA 0.3GW, Victoria 1.4GW, and Tasmania 0.3GW. The remaining 1.8GW will be allocated across the NEM, based on merit.

"I often hear questions about whether recycling is real or effective, but the spotlight rarely falls on the rest of the supply chain," the Australian Council of Recyclers' chief executive Suzanne Toumbourou told a Senate committee hearing into waste and recycling last week.

"The current system saddles recyclers with the burden of contamination and hazards from poorly designed products and irresponsible disposal practices." Toumbourou said.

 Representatives of Cleanaway, Veolia, and the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association were among others giving evidence at the hearing.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has written to the EU Commissioner for the Environment expressing concern about the potential impact on Australian agricultural exports of an EU regulation on deforestation-free supply chains for commodities including beef.

The Australian Government's strong view is that the regulation "won't, and should not, impact Australian beef exports", Watt told Beef2024 in Rockhampton.

"I have requested that the EU Commissioner delay its implementation until all requirements are fully understood and to avoid any adverse impact on our agriculture trade," he said.

The EU regulation is due to enter into force on 30 December, and the European Commission is due to complete country risk assessments for deforestation and forest degradation by that date. 

Watt noted that last year, Australia's largest customer for beef - a supermarket in Japan - had asked Meat and Livestock Australia how Australian beef exporters could help it meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

"That customer also made it clear they would be asking Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and every other competitor we have, the same question," Watt noted.

He also noted that the government had received more than 230 submissions on its Net Zero Plan for agriculture and the land sector.

Meanwhile, Meat and Livestock Australia has released the 2024 Annual Update of the Australian Sustainability Framework.

The federal government's new Future Gas Strategy incorporates six guiding principles, including getting to net zero and keeping gas affordable.

The other four principles are - finding new sources of gas to meet demand, shifting gas consumption to higher-value and non-substitutable uses, adapting the gas and electricity markets, and remaining a reliable trading partner for gas.

The strategy also flags that the government will establish a new Transboundary Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Program "which will provide options for energy security and carbon management solutions for our regional partners". 

The strategy is accompanied by an action plan, and is supported by an analytical report prepared by the Office of the Chief Economist.

Court ruling. The High Court has unanimously found that National Parks can be criminally liable for a breach of s 34(1) of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act 1989, and that it does not have immunity.

The Act prohibits the carrying out of work on or using a sacred site, and the case related to the realignment of a walking track on a sacred site.

The CEFC has invested $15 million in a US$111 million capital raise by Australian advanced electrolyser technology company Hysata.

Templewater and bp Ventures led the investment round, with strong backing from existing major strategic and financial investors IP Group Australia, Kiko Ventures, Hostplus, Vestas Ventures, and BlueScopeX.

Australia wants to host the COP31 climate talks partly because of its own commitment to action on climate change and also to elevate Pacific voices, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong has told a press conference in Adelaide.

The federal government will expand its New Energy Apprenticeships Program so that it subsidises apprentices and trainees in a wider range of sectors. It will also remove a requirement that an apprentice's work be solely dedicated to clean energy, "whilst retaining a clean energy skilling purpose for the apprenticeship".

The federal government is providing $3.5 million to help support and expand the Great Barrier Reef Catchment Loads Monitoring Program, which has operated since 2006.

New reports:

Open consultations:


Consultation opportunity - composting standard. A proposed statutory standard for composting facilities would enable the Department of Environment and Science to require composting facilities near residential areas to use in-vessel or enclosed processing for highly odorous waste. Comments are due by 14 June.

Consultation opportunity - invasive species. The state government is consulting on a proposed new invasive species strategy, with comments due by 31 May.

The state government will provide $20 million from its Queensland Critical Minerals and Battery Technology Fund to support drill testing and trial mining at Australia's largest tungsten mine, in Far North Queensland.

The underground deposit of EQ Resources' existing open pit Mt Carbine Tungsten Mine is still relatively unexplored. Tungsten is used in a range of renewable energy applications, including solar cells, wind turbines, and batteries.

The state government will provide $448.2 million from the Queensland Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs Fund to Stanwell, to double the size of a proposed battery at the Stanwell power station.

Storage will increase from 150MW/300MWh (two-hour duration) to a 300MW/1,200MWh (four-hour duration) battery system.

Six organisations will share grants totalling $4.38 million to support sugarcane growers to implement improved management practices improve the quality of water flowing to the Great Barrier Reef.

The six organisations include Sugar Research Australia Ltd, Innisfail District Cane Growers Organisation Ltd, and Tully Cane Productivity Services Ltd.

New South Wales

A new biodiversity outlook report published by the state government updates the findings of the inaugural 2020 edition, and takes into account the impact of the 2019-20 summer bushfires.

The report shows 50% of listed threatened species are now expected to still be surviving in 100 years, down from 52%.

The EIS for Engie's proposed The Plains wind farm near Hay, with a capacity of 1,350MW, is now on public exhibition, with comments due by 4 June.


The Victorian budget boosts the metropolitan industrial and municipal waste levy to $167.9 a tonne from 1 July 2025, up from the current $129.27, according to the Waste Management Review. The levy will also be proportionally increased at rural landfills, which are set lower than metropolitan areas.

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association welcomed the change, saying it would align Victoria's landfill levy with the NSW rate. The Ai Group said the increases were "relatively modest", but would increase business costs. The Budget also includes:

  • More than $18 million to plan for offshore wind generation, "and $17 million to continue planning, and designing, a renewable energy terminal at the Port of Hastings".
  • an extra $37.7 million for the Solar Homes program, which has so far provided rebates totalling $624 million.
  • $17.5 million "to accelerate the renewable energy transition with earlier biodiversity assessments and better planning processes for new projects".
  • $44 million to the EPA "to crack down on illegal dumping and other waste crimes which threaten our environment".
  • $12.5 million for VicGrid to continue developing the Victorian Transmission Investment Framework.
  • a further $15 million to progress the state’s circular economy targets "and support Recycling Victoria to boost recycling and help households cut down waste".

The Budget also includes $5.9 million for a strategic review of the Victorian Energy Upgrades (VEU) program, according to the Energy Savings Institute of Australia.

Recycling Victoria has released the state's inaugural statutory Circular Economy Risk, Consequence and Contingency Plan (CERCC Plan).

The plan enables waste, recycling, and resource recovery entities to self-assess their level of market share, which helps determine if they are required to develop Responsible Entity Risk, Consequence and Contingency Plan (RERCC Plan).

The CERCC lists six serious risks for the sector, and concludes that it is "almost certain" that there will be contamination incidents that could cause major harm.

A new Gas Distribution Code of Practice will take effect on 1 October. The new code will require gas distributors to provide clear information to customers on their websites, including on how customers can disconnect or abolish their gas connections. 

The state government has signalled it will be retrospectively amending the Tasmanian State Coastal Policy.

The move will remove grounds for an appeal against ACEN's proposed Robbins Island wind farm. The Bob Brown Foundation has criticised the move.

With the help of a $6.2 million ARENA grant, SA Power Networks will lead a $13.8 million Energy Masters trial project that will demonstrate the benefits of demand flexibility, smart appliances and smart energy management systems in homes.

Western Australia

Statutory development - carbon capture. The state Parliament has passed the Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill, which provides a legislative framework for the transport and geological storage of greenhouse gas.

The Bill also enables exploration for naturally-occurring hydrogen.

Gina Rinehart's Atlas Iron has lost an appeal in which it argued that the quantity of emissions from its proposed McPhee Creek iron ore project didn't meet WA EPA criteria for assessment.

The EPA had proposed greenhouse gas conditions for the project, on the basis that its annual scope 1 and 2 emissions would be just over the 100,000 tonne threshold.

However, Atlas Iron argued to the WA Appeals Convenor that the EPA had incorporated an annual 70,450 tonnes of greenhouse gas from haulage activities as part of the project's scope 1 and 2 emissions.

The company said the emissions should have been treated as scope 3, in line with NGER criteria.

But the Appeals Convenor found that the EPA was correct in concluding that "greenhouse gas emissions resulting from haulage of iron ore to a processing facility, regardless of contracting arrangements, should be considered Scope 1 emissions".

"This is consistent with other EPA reports for contemporary assessments in the region, where haulage has been considered by the EPA as a part of its assessments," it said.

The NGER Act "is deliberately flexible, and differences between State and Commonwealth may occur", it said.

The WA Appeals Convenor has recommended that vegetation near Broome that was to be cleared for a landfill and recycling centre should be retained because it is "part of a habitat significant to the Greater Bilby".

However, it also noted that the proposed clearing is within an area where much of the original habitat for Greater Bilby remains, and the proposal will not significantly reduce the area of habitat.

It also noted that waste and resource recovery is an essential public service and the proposed use would be consistent with relevant planning instruments.

"If the Minister is of the view that the permit should be granted, we recommend the appeal be allowed to the extent that the Shire be required to prepare a plan to offset the significant residual impacts to Greater Bilby habitat," the Appeal Convenor said.

However, after considering the Appeal Convenor's advice, the Minister granted the permit without imposing the offset condition.

"Advice provided to the Minister by the Department is that the entire Broome (and Dampier) peninsula is mapped as a critical habitat for the Greater Bilby," the Minister said.

However, the Minister "accepted the Department's view that taking a black-and-white approach to the definition of critical habitat while not accounting for local and regional environmental context in decision-making, would mean that almost any development requiring clearing on the Dampier Peninsula would require an offset for the Greater Bilby".

"The Department's view is that this is not an outcome that is required by the WA Environmental Offsets Framework," the Minister said.

The state government will spend $36.4 million "to slash green tape and speed up approvals as part of its ambitious reform agenda for job-creating projects", according to Premier Roger Cook. 

The spending, included in the 2024-25 State Budget, will boost the resourcing of Western Australia's approvals framework.

The new package will include $14.1 million to establish "cross-sector triage teams" within regulatory agencies, which will provide immediate review and rapid upfront assessment of approval applications, including for green energy projects. 

Another $9.6 million will go towards boosting staffing to accelerate approvals reform. A further $10.6 million will be invested in the state's new Environment Online system, which will provide a single system for water and environmental regulatory activities across government. 

The 2024-25 Budget has allocated $500 million to a new Strategic Industries Fund to develop common-user infrastructure in WA's strategic industrial areas (SIAs). 

WA is home to 13 SIAs, spanning the entire State: Browse, Boodarie, Burrup, Maitland, Anketell, Ashburton North, Oakajee, Kwinana, Rockingham, Kemerton, Shotts, Mungari and Mirambeena.

An initial $125 million from the Fund will be invested to open up new industrial land at Latitude 32 in Kwinana, a further $20 million will be allocated to develop general industrial land in Karratha and the Peel region, and $20 million has been set aside to unlock land in the Goldfields and South West.

The new funding builds on the $35 million investment into the Industrial Land Development Fund included in last year's Budget, which has progressed planning works on priority SIAs at the Pilbara. 

The WA Parliament's Labor-chaired Education and Health Standing Committee has released a report on alternative proteins which recommends that the government "should provide more support for the development of the alternative proteins industry".

"Human health concerns including cancer risks, heart disease and the emerging threat of antimicrobial resistance are all associated with increased per capita consumption of animal proteins," the report says.

Consultation and statutory development - environmental approvals. The state government has released draft Eligible Mining Activity (EMA) Regulations that will introduce a simplified authorisation process for mining-related activities that involve minimal disturbance, and that won't be taking place in sensitive areas. Comments are due by 3 July.

Grant opportunity - decarbonisation. Applications for grants of between $5 million and $15 million are now being accepted by a state government/Chevron backed fund.

The fund supports large research and innovation activities that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions or test, demonstrate and deploy technologies that support lower carbon projects. Applications must be lodged by 6 June.

Grant opportunity - clean energy. The state government is offering grants of up to $4 million in the latest round of its Clean Energy Future Fund. The fund supports innovative projects to decarbonise existing industry, develop new renewable energy businesses and improve energy efficiency.

Applications must be submitted by 10 June.

Events, jobs, company news, and key international developments are listed below.

ESG Snapshot is distributed to C-suite executives and sustainability and climate professionals in companies and organisations that are members of BCSDA, which is the local network partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. For membership enquiries, contact ESG Snapshot is available to BCSDA non-members on a six-week trial basis.

BCSDA welcomes enquiries from organisations and companies interested in distributing ESG Snapshot under their own logo to their members, clients or suppliers.
Coming up on 1 July - BCSDA's Fiona Wain Oration. To be delivered by inaugural Grattan Institute chief executive Professor John Daley AM, in honour of former BCSDA chief executive and sustainability pioneer, Fiona Wain.
May 14, Industrial decarbonisation summit. An event in Sydney, hosted by the Energy Efficiency Council.
May 15, Reversing climate change - Australia's future in atmospheric carbon removal. An event in Sydney and online, hosted by the Climate Recovery Institute.
May 15 and 16, Energy Efficiency Council national conference. A two-day event in Sydney.
May 20 to 22, Carbon farming industry forum. An event in Cairns hosted by the Carbon Market Institute.
May 22, Nature and biodiversity seminar. An event in Melbourne hosted by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors.
May 23, Victorian Energy Upgrade seminar. An event in Melbourne hosted by the Energy Savings Institute of Australia.
May 29 and 30, Fourth annual Australian renewable energy zones conference. An event in Sydney, hosted by Informa.
June 4, Clean energy investor conference 2024. An event in Melbourne, hosted by the Clean Energy Investor Group.
June 5 and 6, Tasmanian energy development conference. An event in Devonport, hosted by Informa.
June 14, NABERS + CBD 2024. In Sydney and virtual, hosted by the NSW government and NABERS.
23 August, Climate governance forum. An event in Sydney, hosted by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
November 5, Sustainability leaders summit. An event in Auckland.
November 7 and 8, Investor Group on Climate Change 2024 summit. An event in Melbourne, hosted by IGCC.
Jobs Board
BlueScope is seeking a Melbourne-based climate change/sustainability communications specialist.
The Carbon Market Institute has a vacancy for a director, media and communications.
EPA Victoria is seeking a senior industry guidance officer.
Gippsland Water has a vacancy for a climate and biodiversity lead.
SA Water is hiring a sustainability advisor.
Squadron Energy has a vacancy for a Newcastle-based environmental compliance officer.
Company news and resources
ANZ has launched a new Large Emitters Engagement Program (LEEP), partly in response to the federal government's Safeguard reforms.

The LEEP, together with sectoral pathways, is "informing" ANZ's credit decisions in higher emitting sectors, ANZ says.

The bank says it is now likely to reduce its exposure to top emitters that have underdeveloped transition plans or no public transition plans. It also expects large emitting customers to get third-party assurance of their emissions performance and targets.

ANZ has also strengthened its oil and gas policy, and says both its upstream oil & gas and thermal coal mining exposures have decreased, "reflecting our ongoing portfolio management initiatives". The bank's thermal coal mining exposures are now largely mining rehabilitation bonds.
Environmental and engineering consultancy Tonkin + Taylor has released its inaugural sustainability report.
UK retail chain Waitrose has released a Farming for nature strategy that commits to actions including completing a 'state of nature' assessment by 2026 of all its own brand UK farms.

Ahead of the final round of talks on a proposed UN plastics treaty, Australia is one of the countries that has signed a new Bridge to Busan declaration, which urges an end to the unsustainable production of plastic polymers.

Other signatories seeking to restrict polymer production to sustainable levels include several small island states, and a number of EU countries.

However, Climate Home News reports that hopes are fading for the inclusion of polymer production constraints in the final text of the treaty.

The New Zealand Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Committee will conduct an inquiry on climate adaptation that will develop and recommend guiding objectives and principles for a national climate adaptation framework. 

The latest EY quarterly CEO Pulse has found that more than half of CEOs globally (54%) see sustainability issues as a higher priority than they did 12 months ago.

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has released Terms of Reference for conducting a major revision of its Corporate Net-Zero Standard outlining the objectives, scope, deliverables, provisional timeline, and opportunities for engagement.

The review will lead to the development of a Corporate Net-Zero Standard Version 2.0 

Australian news items in all issues of ESG Snapshot can be searched by relevant Sustainable Development Goal category. To do this, click on the '17 SDGs' link at the top of this web page, or on any of the SDG keys below.

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